We all dad differently. That’s the truth of being a father. We all bring our own personalities and our own strengths and weaknesses to the job. At the end of the day, we get the job done but we get it done in very different ways.
There are lots of jobs where people can find success with varied approaches. Take NFL quarterbacks for instance. We all know a bad NFL QB when we see one but, as the playoffs show us, there are a lot of good QBs out there as well. They look different and play differently from each other but, at the end of the day, they get it done for their teams and pull out W’s.
The divisional round of the 2020/21 NFL playoffs features eight QBs who all find success in ways that look very different from their counterparts. They have all got their team two steps from the Super Bowl but no two took the same path to get here.
The eight QBs left in this year’s playoffs are all very good QBs in their own right but they’ve got to this point in very different ways.
Aaron Rodgers — The Underappreciated Superstar
What is Aaron Rodgers’s only flaw? It is that he is not Drew Brees or Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes. Rogers is widely regarded as one of the best QBs of his generation. He just doesn’t top anyone’s list of best QBs. He won a Super Bowl, but only one. He has two MVPs and he’s led the leagues in pretty much everything multiple times in his career. The problem is, the generations ahead of him just won’t retire and the generation behind him is here and making noise. He is the man in the middle.
The Aaron Rodgers dad is the dad who does everything yet they are still underrated. You take your family on great vacations to the lake but another dad in your circle takes the family to the Caribbean. You help your kid create a great science project that they can be proud they did mostly on their own. Another dad builds a project that looks like it was done by a trained engineer (because they are a trained engineer). You are a great dad but it seems like no matter what you do, you just can’t win.
Advice for Aaron Rodgers Dads: Don’t worry about keeping up with the Brady or Mahomes dads. Packers fans (your family) knows how great you are and they wouldn’t trade you for the world.
Jared Goff — The Game Manager
Jared Goff was the number one overall pick of the 2016 draft. Like Patrick Mahomes, he is the son of a former professional athlete. He has quarterbacked his team to a Super Bowl. The only problem is, he’s not that talented. There are at least a dozen QBs (maybe more) in the NFL that are better than Goff but many of them are now sitting at home on their couch watch Goff play (looking at you, Russ). How does he do it? He manages the game. He lets his skill positon players and D do the work and he’s there to just not mess it up.
The Jared Goff dad is someone who knows his limitations. You parent as best he can with what you’ve been given, which may not be a lot but that’s ok. You’ve managed to have great kids and marry a great partner. Now, your job is just to not screw it up. You focus on the basics and don’t try and get too fancy. As long as you don’t mess up too bad, your partner and kids will be able to take your family to the buzzer with a W.
Advice for Jared Goff Dads: K.I.S.S. — Keep it Simple Stupid. Don’t try to be Super Dad, that’s not you. Keep your head down, do your work, and let your better half and the kids’ natural talent shine through.
Josh Allen — Growing into the Job
As a Bills fan myself, I love Josh Allen and wouldn’t take any other QB on this list right now. His career trajectory is as fun to watch as it is inspiring. Allen came into the league with all the potential in the world. Those first few years though he threw bad interceptions, took terrible sacks, and was one of the most inaccurate QBs in football. That all changed in 2021. He worked hard the last few offseasons, his team got better around him, and Allen turned himself into one of the best QBs in the league. Now he scrambles at perfect times, hits his receivers in stride, and instills the utmost confidence in his fans.
The Josh Allen dad looked good on paper coming into fatherhood but struggled early. You weren’t a baby guy. You think diapers are disgusting, Baby Shark is stupid, and why won’t babies just listen to reason and stop crying? But, you worked hard at being a good dad and the babies turned into little people. The game has slowed down for you now. You are more confident in yourself and the people around you are too.
Advice for Josh Allen Dads: Keep up the good work! You’ve got past the hardest part and you have come into your own. Keep gaining experience and working at your craft and you are well on your way to being a Hall of Fame Dad someday.
Lamar Jackson — The Untraditional MVP
In 2018, NFL Teams drafted Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen ahead of Lamar Jackson. Jackson didn’t have the arm or the accuracy or the traditional look and feel that these other QBs offered teams. However, as we sit here in 2021, how many of the guys have been named NFL MVP? Just one. Lamar Jackson. He has done it running a deep pass and run-based offense designed specifically for him. He isn’t a traditional NFL QB but he may be the prototype for a new generation that will come into the league in 2021 and beyond.
The Lamar Jackson dad may not be traditional but whatever it is you do, it’s working. Maybe you are a hippy or a free-range parent or a super-involved dad. It may not be what the parenting books tell you to do but with your family, it makes you the MVP. Like Lamar, there will be plenty of people who doubt your style and your skills but what you do gets the job done and it gets it done well.
Advice for Lamer Jackson Dads: Don’t listen to the haters. No one really knows what they’re doing as a dad so if your style is working for you and your kids, lean into it hard.
Baker Mayfield — Settling into the Job
Cleveland took Baker Mayfield first overall in the 2018 draft ahead of the likes of Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and others. They saw a young gunslinger with a host of talents and a brash attitude and thought they could make him a great QB for their franchise. The first two years, Mayfield did more trash-talking and more commercials than he did winning. This year, he got a new coach who was able to calm Mayfield down a bit and has turned him into the winning QB that the Browns thought they were drafting three years ago.
The Baker Mayfield dad started out a little wild but is coming around to be the best dad you can be now. When you first became a dad, you didn’t let go of your old ways. You still drank with the boys a little more than you should have and focused more on your own life and career. A few years in though, you’ve started to figure it out. You’re now making your kids and family a priority while still finding ways to let off steam but in more productive ways now. You are becoming the dad everyone thought you could be after a few bumps in the road.
Advice for Baker Mayfield Dads: Everyone believes you can be a good dad, make sure you believe in yourself. You may always have your demons but as long as you make your family your priority, you’ll continue to find success.
Patrick Mahomes — The Modern Ideal
Throughout NFL history, there are QBs who defined the game in their era with their talents. This list, according to ESPN, goes Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Peyton Manning. Patrick Mahomes is the obvious next name on this list. Mahomes is the physical epitome of the modern QB. He is tall, big-armed, accurate, and he can run. Also, his on-the-fly improvisation is like nothing we have ever seen. At 25, he already has a Super Bowl, a Super Bowl MVP, and an NFL MVP. The sky is the limit for him and he is just starting out.
The Patrick Mahomes dad is the cool dad that is perfect for 2021. Generations prior have been defined by dads like Mike Brady, Jason Seaver, Phillip Banks, Danny Tanner, and Phil Dunphy. In 2021, you are the real-life dad to pick up that torch. You are cool but have rules as well. You like Lil’ Yachty but can introduce your kids to Buffalo Tom. Your kids are into TV and movies and are good on the computer but they get outside and get a lot of exercise too. You are even able to have the tough conversations about these crazy times and your kids walk away feeling better about life.
Advice for Patrick Mahomes Dads: You’re killing it, keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve struck the perfect balance between being a dad and being a friend. Keep that balance as your kids get older, don’t let the friend side take over and you’ll have the chance to reach GOAT status.
Drew Brees — The Boy Scout
Drew Brees is a great QB. On the field, he’s won a Super Bowl and is a two-time Offensive Player of the Year. Off the field, he’s just as good, if not better. He has won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and been Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. He currently holds multiple NFL career passing records, he helped the New Orleans Saints overcome years of ineptitude, and also helped the city of New Orleans recover after Hurricane Katrina. With all that, he isn’t as popular around the league as some of his contemporaries. He’s listed at 6-feet tall (yeah, right), played at a middling college football school (Purdue), and was unceremoniously dumped by his first team (Chargers). The only problem with Brees is that he’s not that cool.
The Drew Brees dad is a great dad, just not that cool. You will lead your kids’ scout troop and coach the Little League team but you’ll get to practice in your 2014 Honda Accord, not a new Audi like that other dad. You put on a great backyard BBQ for your kids and their friends. You’ll put on some killer party music (maybe some Hall and Oates) and make sure everyone is properly lathered up with sunscreen. Maybe someday, you’ll even share a cold beer with the kids… after they’re 21, of course.
Advice for Drew Brees Dads: Being cool is overrated. Slow and steady wins the race and as long as everyone is safe and happy, that makes you a great dad.
Tom Brady — The GOAT
Tom Brady is the best to ever do it. He is the Greatest of All-Time, the GOAT. He has won six Super Bowls, played in nine, won four Super Bowl MVPs, and three NFL MVPs. He has won over 200 games, 30-plus postseason games, and he has NEVER had a losing season. On the personal side, he is married to a supermodel, has model good looks himself, is still playing at a high level in his mid-40s, and is even a great co-parent with his ex and their son. Brady does it all and has it all, what else can you say?
The Tom Brady dad is the best at everything. Your life is great, your kids are great, and every move you make as a dad is simply great. To be a Brady dad, you need to be on the back end of fatherhood and your results speak for themselves. Your kids had a great childhood, went to or are currently attending a top college, and you will soon be a fantastic grandfather to your grandkids who will probably be super good-looking. Other dads aren’t even mad or jealous any more. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be able to say you saw the GOAT play.
Advice for Tom Brady Dads: Are you kidding? I don’t have any advice for you. You’re the GOAT. I should be coming to you for advice… just please don’t tell me the secret is avocado ice cream.